Back-to-school season is underway and that means parents are out getting supplies, new clothes and back packs. It’s also a good time to make sure your kids are up to date on their vaccines.
Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough.
"I think some people forget that these diseases are not gone," said Dr. Mary DiOrio, the state epidemiologist at the Ohio Dept. of Health.
Ohio has had 377 confirmed cases of measles this year, the largest outbreak in the U.S. since 1994. Ohio’s mumps outbreak stands at 473 cases. DiOrio says there have been whooping cough outbreaks in recent years.
"Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health and that of classmates and the community," said DiOrio.
Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students.
Children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio.
Preteens and teen-agers need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.
Parents can opt their children out of getting vaccines, but DiOrio suggests talking with the school and their doctor before making any decision.
"In Ohio we have very high immunization rates and we're real grateful that people realize that immunizations are extremely important," she said.